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Accessibility: ERC defines TV broadcast obligations vis-à-vis viewers with special needs

posted on 05 February, 2014   (public)

ERC defines television broadcast obligations vis-à-vis viewers with special needs - Multi-year plan approved

The Regulatory Board of ERC, the Portuguese Media Regulatory Authority, approved on 2 January 2014 the multi-year plan of obligations to allow television programmes to be viewed by people with special needs, after consulting with television operators, the operators of on-demand audiovisual services and associations of disabled persons. These obligations include the use of subtitling, interpretation through sign language, audio description or other techniques deemed appropriate, as well as the provision of easily understandable navigation menus.

The multi-year plan applies to the period from 1 February 2014 to 31 January 2017. It is divided into different temporal segments, depending on whether the programme services form part of the public service television package or the service of private operators. ERC considered technical and market conditions in the definition of the plan and it sought to establish fair and proportionate targets, respecting the real situation of television operators and also the legitimate expectations of citizens with special needs.

Obligations relating to public broadcasters:

  • RTP1 shall guarantee, under the plan and for the period from 1 February 2014 to 31 January 2015, between 08:00 and 02:00, eight hours per week of fictional, documentary or cultural magazine programmes with subtitling specifically intended for persons with hearing impairment. It may use any technical means available for this purpose. RTP2 should guarantee in relation thereto a total of ten hours per week, and RTP Madeira and RTP Açores two hours per week of information, educational, cultural, recreational or religious programmes with interpretation.
  • The plan also establishes that RTP1 is required to broadcast thirty-five hours per year of fictional or documentary programmes with audio description and three hours per week of information, educational, cultural, recreational or religious programmes with interpretation by means of Portuguese sign language, including, if such programmes appear on its schedule, the interpretation of one complete news programme per day during the night-time period. RTP2 is also required to guarantee the broadcast of this latter set of programmes, but totalling six hours per week.
  • The plan establishes in relation to the non-subscription service of thematic programmes focused on the information area of the public service (RTP Informação), that two hours per week of programmes of an informative nature should be broadcast with interpretation by Portuguese sign language, including the full interpretation of one of the news programmes on a weekly basis, between 1 February 2014 and 31 January 2015, and in the period between 19:00 and 00:00.
  • The plan further specifies that in the period between 1 February 2015 and 31 January 2017 RTP1, RTP2, RTP Informação, RTP Madeira and RTP Açores shall double the figures of the obligations that were established to 31 January 2015. The Regulatory Board also requires that RTP2 shall broadcast during this period twelve hours per year of fictional or documentary programmes with audio description.

Obligations relating to private operators:

  • The plan states that the general programme services of SIC and TVI comply with, in the period between 1 February 2015 and 31 January 2016, the obligations set forth for RTP1 in the preceding year, with the exception of the point relating to the imposition of thirty-five hours per year for fictional and documentary programmes. Between 1 February 2016 and 31 January 2017 SIC and TVI shall double the number of hours corresponding to the obligations set forth for the previous year and guarantee 12 hours per year of fictional and documentary programmes with audio description.
  • The programme services of SIC Notícias, TVI 24 and Correio da Manhã TV of the private television operators shall broadcast two hours per week of programmes of an informative nature with interpretation by Portuguese sign language, including the full interpretation of one of the news programmes on a weekly basis, between 1 February 2015 and 31 January 2016, and in the period between 19:00 and 00:00.

Concerning on-demand audiovisual services:

  • The Regulatory Board recommended to TV operators and operators of on-demand audiovisual services, in addition to the obligations defined in the plan which may be consulted in greater detail in Resolution 4/2014 (OUT-TV), that they continue to endeavour to adopt new techniques capable of ensuring accessibility to broadcasts by people with special needs, in particular those provided by technological advances and harnessing the capacity of digital platforms. These endeavours take into account the need to meet the progressive increase in exigency of this area.

Source: ERC - Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social

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